It has been just over a year since the Biden administration announced its commitment to environmental justice (EJ), and the regulated community can now examine whether the administration has been effective in achieving some of its EJ policy goals. Some are also comparing the administration’s actions with various states’ actions concerning EJ.
Overall, it seems that the administration has undertaken a collection of acute regulatory actions that weave EJ initiatives into several laws. By comparison, several states appear to have taken a robust approach to implementing EJ principles, including enacting legislation that directly benefits disadvantaged communities.
This alert provides an update on these recent EJ developments at the federal and state levels.
Federal EJ Developments
- EJ Action Plan: On January 5, 2022, EPA released a draft Environmental Justice Action Plan, which outlined the new federal EJ program and indicated that EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) will address EJ concerns in all of the programs that the office oversees, including Superfund, emergency response, and risk management. The action plan states four goals: (1) strengthening compliance with environmental statutes and civil rights laws; (2) incorporating EJ considerations into the regulatory process; (3) improving engagement with communities during rulemaking and permitting decisions; and (4) implementing President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. Justice40 aims to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of federal investments in climate and clean energy, including sustainable transportation,
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